Revised performance coupe now packs a bigger punch and a new name
The BMW naming convention music has stopped once again and, in this year’s scramble for a seat, the M235i has been elbowed aside by the new M240i and made to sit in the corner. But in truth, there is more to this replacement than just a bigger-numbered badge affixed the compact two-door coupe’s bootlid.
In the same vein as the new M140i, BMW has tickled its twin-scroll- turbocharged 3.0-litre straight six petrol engine to produce an extra 14bhp, bringing the new total to 335bhp at 5500rpm, and it now offers 369lb ft between 1520rpm and 4500rpm, some 37lb ft more.
Naturally, the M240i is quicker in a sprint than the M235i. Our manual-shifting car is capable of 0-62mph in a claimed 4.8sec, 0.2sec faster than before. And in yet more Bavarian wizardry, fuel economy has also improved by up to 7%, so the manual version now returns 36.2mpg combined and emits 179g/km of CO2.
The final main changes are a rev-linked vibration damper (automatic version only) that aids engine refinement between shifts under load, and a new acoustic bonnet shield designed to filter out other noises to make the engine sound purer.
With no chassis changes in this revamp, the main focus is on the M240i’s more powerful engine, and what an engine it is. You rarely find yourself hurriedly snatching a lower gear in need of higher revs here. The straight six has absolutely no issue being at the other end of the dial, either, and neither will you: the noise is deep, purposeful and muscular.
If there are any problems with the performance, it’s perhaps that there’s a little too much and the M240i’s rear tyres are easily overwhelmed on wet roads. Still, keep the car in Comfort or Sport mode and the traction control is quick to save the day. Only Sport Plus really demands your fullest attention when the going gets soggy.
In the right conditions, though, Sport Plus is exactly where you’ll want to be. The throttle, steering and optional adaptive dampers are primed for action and all feel their best in this mode, ensuring the M240i remains every bit as poised, agile and communicative as its predecessor. It falls only just short of the handling benchmark set by the Porsche 718 Cayman, which keeps its body better vertically planted and steers with a touch more linearity.
But the M240i’s marginally softer approach and, in particular, the adaptive dampers in Comfort mode make it the more rounded prospect. Dialled right back, the engine settles down and the suspension is allowed to breathe enough that everything from sleeping policemen to high-frequency ruts never intrude.
Still intact, too, is the 2 Series coupe’s upmarket cabin. Two adults sit comfortably in the low-slung front seats, and the boot is big enough for a couple of medium suitcases.
The dashboard materials are soft, the switches are nicely damped and the iDrive multimedia screen has had a makeover that makes it even easier on the eye yet every bit as easy to use.
By choosing the M240i, you forgo the M140i’s better practicality and lower price, but few would argue that the coupe isn’t prettier. There’s always a case for choosing a manual gearbox in a sports car, too, but the manual shift isn’t the slickest out there, whereas BMWs eight-speed auto is one of the best, improves CO2 emissions and fuel economy and brings a quicker 0-62mph time.
For those willing to step away from comfort and practicality even further, the 718 Cayman remains the benchmark driver’s car at similar money. Still, the cheaper, better-equipped M240i now has a cylinder advantage (six to four) and is only just behind in terms of grin factor.
More power, more speed, more noise: revamped BMW performance coupe is sweeter than ever
Price: £ 35,903
Engine: 6cyls, 2998cc, turbo, petrol
Power: 335bhp at 5500rpm
Torque: 369lb ft at 1520-4500rpm
Gearbox: 6-spd automaitic
Kerb weight: 1505kg
Top speed: 155mph
Economy: 36.2mpg (combined)
CO2/tax band: 179g/km, 32%
Rivals: Mercedes-AMG CLA45, Porsche 718 Cayman